Bob Tamasy: Suggestions For ‘My Brother’s Keeper’

Monday, March 31, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Recently President Obama announced his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, aimed at helping young minority men – particularly African-Americans and Hispanics – overcome formidable challenges. He’s recruiting a number of prominent minority leaders to become part of this effort.

I commend this emphasis since the President, our first non-white Chief Executive, has much to offer, not only from the clout of his office but also from personal experience. In announcing his plans, Obama stated, “By almost any measure, the group that is facing some of the most severe challenges in the 21st century, in this country, are boys and young men of color.”

Statistics would bear this out. On average, black and Hispanic boys trail young white boys markedly in reading skills by the time they reach the fourth grade. Each year, young blacks and Hispanics comprise approximately half of the nation’s murder victims. And collectively, blacks and Hispanics make up nearly 60 percent of the U.S. prison rolls, while their ethnic groups total only one-quarter of the general population. 

My Brother’s Keeper sounds like a long-overdue idea. I’m wondering, however, what message the President and others plan to use for motivating these boys and young men to achieve better lives. I’m privileged to have several African-American men as friends, so I have some understanding of the challenges they’ve faced and overcome.

The President hasn’t asked me, but I have a few ideas for him and the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force to offer the young men: 

·         Learn to read, and read to learn. Whether reading books, magazines, newspapers, or content on the Internet, there’s a limitless wealth of information and knowledge readily available to help in pursuing one’s dreams and aspirations.

·         Take responsibility for your actions. If you’re in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people, don’t expect anything good to happen. Life is a series of choices, and if you make the right choices, good things will follow. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).

·         Don’t be a victim. Over the past few decades, someone decided it’s a good idea to blame failures on somebody else, rather than mustering the initiative to use failure as a teaching tool for learning how to succeed. I know many people who refused to be victims, regardless of their circumstances, and as a result have achieved much success.

·         Young women are not sex toys. Too often young men of any ethnicity treat sex as mere recreation, failing to respect the young women they are with and value them as real people with real needs and real feelings. When the Bible talks about women being “the weaker vessel,” (1 Peter 3:7), it’s not a put-down. It’s no more demeaning than saying exquisite crystal or fine china is weaker than an iron skillet or sledgehammer.

·         If you have sex and father a child, be a father to that child. Statistics tell us about three-fourths of black children are growing up in single-parent, female-led homes. Women are doing incredible jobs in trying to care for and nurture their children, but as in any endeavor, the job is much easier when there are two to share in the duties and responsibilities. As the Bible says, “Two are better than one, they have a good return for their labor” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). When God said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” I’m certain He was thinking the same about women.

·         Don’t expect the world to do for you what you can – and should – do for yourself. An entitlement mentality has invaded our times, people looking to government and society to provide for their needs and wants. And then they become angry because their expectations aren’t met. Why wait for someone to do what’s in your capacity to do on your own? “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5).

·         The path to success doesn’t pass only through pro sports and recording studios. Only an infinitesimal percentage of minority young men will even get a taste of the NFL, NBA, Major League baseball or entertainment world. Yet those that attain those levels often are built up as role models. Why not spotlight accomplished minority men in far more accessible professions – physicians and nurses, attorneys, entrepreneurs, business executives, retail managers, educators, tradesmen, engineers, scientists, and others? Dr. Ben Carson, who overcame extreme poverty to become a renowned neurosurgeon, is one glowing example. But of course, he’s politically conservative, so I suppose that would disqualify him from President Obama’s consideration.

We all have a unique purpose and design, given by God, and we each should pursue it. “For you created my inmost being…. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14). I hope the President’s initiative can be a big step in pointing deserving young men toward discovering how they can achieve fulfilling, meaningful lives and careers – what God has intended for them all along. 

I’m certain we could think of some other suggestions as well, but these would be a good start. Yes, many of them have a biblical basis – but that shouldn’t justify dismissing them. After all, “my brother’s keeper” comes from the Bible, too (Genesis 4:9).

---

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


Women Moving Forward Seminar This Saturday At Second Missionary Baptist

Second Missionary Baptist Church will be holding a Women Moving Forward Seminar on Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for their 69th  Annual Women's Day Celebration. The event is free but participants will need to register by calling the church office at 423-624-3275. The sessions available will be Grief & Healing, Caregiving, Christian Parenting, Health & Healthy Choices ... (click for more)

Shadrix Trio Plays At Bethesda Baptist Oct. 12

Shadrix Trio is playing a live concert at Bethesda Baptist Church on Oct. 12, at 6 p.m. Bethesda Baptist Church is at 600 Highway 151 in LaFayette.  For more information call 706.620-2066.  The concert is free.  Review for Shadrix Trio: From Northwest Georgia, the Shadrix Trio is a young, exciting, anointed ministry that has been traveling throughout the United ... (click for more)

Youth Pleads Guilty In 2011 Club Fathom Shootings; Rakestraw Gets 3 Years In Prison

A teen who was 15 at the time nine people were shot outside Club Fathom downtown on Christmas Eve 2011 pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault on Tuesday. Brandon Lebron Rakestraw, who is now 18, appeared before Criminal Court Judge Don Poole. He received a three-year prison term to serve. Rakestraw has been in jail for 10 months. Prosecutor Jason Demastus ... (click for more)

Erlanger Finishes Fiscal Year With $18 Million Profit

After a major loss the year before, Erlanger Health System finished the fiscal year with an $18 million profit, officials announced Monday night. It was well ahead of the $2 million gain that Erlanger had budgeted for, and far better than last year's $8 million loss. The profit was boosted by a first-time $19,587,000 from a Public Hospital Supplemental payment and essential ... (click for more)

ChattaData Is A Real Advance For The City

This past Tuesday, the city of Chattanooga's new performance management tool called ChattaData was unveiled. As the chairman of the City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee, I am excited to witness the city putting this important information online in a way that is accessible and transparent to all taxpayers. This approach shines light on how we as a city prioritize our ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Apollos Hester’s Way

East View High was trailing at halftime by a pair of touchdowns in last Friday night’s game against unbeaten Vandegrift. But the players at the Georgetown, Texas, school each have a sticker on the back of their helmets that says “TPW” which is a constant reminder that “Tough People Win.” Then there is “attitude” and that is where running back Apollos Hester steps in. In what ... (click for more)